On Tuesday 29 December, the annual Outreach Christmas celebration for children from Khayelitsha was held at the Orthodox Centre in Cape Town. This annual event is organised by the Welfare Committee under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Sergios, Metropolitan Bishop of Cape Town.
There are a few families and individuals from Khayelitsha who are interested in Orthodox Christianity. Initially they were under the guardianship of the late Deacon Father Vasilios Sambu. One group of children reside in an informal settlement in Khayelitsha and they meet regularly on Sundays for prayer and fellowship in a small Church under the guidance of Mr Simon Twenga. He is assisted by Zimasa Gwanya and Petros Khaya. Petros who hails from the Eastern Cape, was sent by the Metropolis to study religious studies at the Orthodox Seminary of the Patriarchate of Alexandria in Egypt. He also serves in the Altar with Father Nikolaos at the Cathedral of Saint George in Woodstock.
Parallel to this there is a second group of children who live in Gugulethu. They all attend the ‘Nontsikelelo Arts Project’ which was started by Ntombi Magantsele as a song and Dance group to occupy children and keep them off the streets in the township.
His Eminence and Committee members have been nurturing these groups of children for a number of years in the hopes of developing a long term relationship with them. In the past the function was held in the garden at the Metropolis but since last year it is held at Orthodox Centre which has more facilities and is also closer in proximity to the townships. The objective is not only to entertain them once per year at Christmas but also to help them develop life skills and to assist them with a tutoring programme. Regular workshops are held for them at the Orthodox Centre lead by Crystal-Jade Lerios, an educational researcher.
This year we hosted fifty children who were transported to and from the Centre by taxi. When they arrived, His Eminence welcomed everyone and said that we are pleased to have the opportunity to share Christmas with them. He also welcomed Archimandrite Theodoros Drikakis from Cairo who was visiting Cape Town after having travelled to KZN to officiate at the Services over the Christmas period. He said that he has the same name as our Patriarch Theodoros II and that he brings with him the blessing of His Beatitude the Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa Theodoros II.
He thanked the ladies from the Welfare Committee, Evgenia Sofianos, Evanthia Psomas, Pepe Sofianos, Bas Angelis and their friends and Sunday school teacher Carol Vikos and her son Vasili for preparing everything for the day. Father Nikolaos Giamouridis, parish priest of Cape Town followed with a blessing and the children said the “Our Father” in the Xhosa language.
After lunch the children sang Christmas Carols in Xhosa and in English and everyone else responded with “Christmas Kalanda” (Carols) in the Greek language. Both groups of children performed African and contemporary dance and song led by Ntombi Magantse and her drum.
The day was enjoyed by all and before leaving each child received a parcel with age appropriate school stationery and toiletries and a “padkos” pack with fruit, sweets and juice for the journey home. Many thanks to the members of The Hellenic Community of Cape Town for their generous donations in support of the projects of the Metropolis.